Pansies

I spent some time with the front step pansies this afternoon.

I can never decide which are more beautiful.  The purple …

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or the yellow …

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Regardless, I’ve always loved pansies.  Partly because they seem old-fashioned: they remind me of an old velvet chair or ball gown.  And partly because of Hamlet.  You know that part when Ophelia doles out flowers?  “And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

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Somehow my yogurt ended up amongst the pansies.

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And my book.  I love Wuthering Heights almost as much as I love pansies.  I have a soft spot for tragic, deeply romantic books and movies, and this is it:

“I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

Although, let’s talk about Cathy some time.  Does anyone feel sympathy for her?  Let me know.

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Magazine Reading

I’m a genuine licked-thumbs, gum-snapping, eye-rolling, foot-jiving magazine skimmer.  I read books to savor them.  I read magazines when I’m too tired for that kind of concentration: I read magazines for the blurbs.  The “Oprah’s Favorite Things” section of O Magazine?  The little “Did You Know” tidbit boxes gracing the margins of InStyle?  They’re my weekend Shakespearean sonnets.

That being said, when I actually sit down and read through an entire magazine article, it has to be exceptionally interesting.

I read this article last night in Runner’s World, having tried to skim past it first, and then having been pulled in regardless:

http://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/bret-dunlap-discovered-running-and-it-changed-his-life

Photo credit: Holly Andres

Photo credit: Holly Andres

Even if you, like me, hardly pretend to be a real runner, I think you’ll still find it poignant and inspiring.

Happy weekend!

The Tempest

I am currently sitting on the third floor of the library.  I am smug because I managed to snag one of the comfy chairs.  I am full because I just polished off my lunch of orange and homemade chicken soup.  I am focused because I’m reading for Feminist Theory.  I am tired because I chose the Downton Abbey finale over sleep last night.  I am slightly uncomfortable because there is a woman I’ve never seen in my life taking pictures of me from a few shelves down.

This is awkward.  She just moved around to my left and is taking some more.

Okay, it’s all right: she finally introduced herself.  She’s part of the University Relations team, taking photographs for the UMM website.

Welcome to my life, friends.  And you thought Kim Kardashian has paparazzi problems?

In other news, Morris is under yet another blizzard warning.  Not knowing this, I walked to school this morning (not that there were other options had I known) through 33 mph winds. That was fun.

What was fun was that at one point in the walk, I passed my friend Andy.  Not bothering to peel the scarf from his face, he shouted through it a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here!”

My Favorite Shakespeare Play

The very first play we read in my Shakespeare class was Romeo and Juliet.  I was disgusted to see it listed on the syllabus, and huffed about the assignment with others in the class.

“But we read it in high school!” We exclaimed in mock-polite whispers,  “We discussed every scene at length, we watched the old version of the movie and then the Leo version.  We giggled when our teacher ran up to the monitor to cover up Juliet’s naked chest in the old version (although my high school teacher forgot, and couldn’t fast forward in time.  Poor Mrs. Stark.  She fueled many a cafeteria discussion that day).  We read scenes aloud, and acted them out in groups of three.  What else can we say about it?  It’s terribly romantic, and terribly tragic, but we have absolutely nothing more to say.”

But then I finally settled down on my bed, heavy Riverside Shakespeare in my lap.  And I began to read.

And, as you’ve probably suspected from the beginning of this post, I found a few things I hadn’t noticed as a sixteen-year-old.  I found that Juliet is far more aggressive than Romeo in hashing out the details of their union.  She utterly dominates the balcony scene; she is far from swooning against the rail.

I found that we might think of Verona as a sick city.  It’s not just the quarreling, it’s not just this certain couple and these certain families; the entire city is in a state of ruin.  There is plague, there is lack of faith, there is a gloominess that seeps up from the streets.

I found that I was disgusted by the adults in the play.  These poor kids are all of thirteen and sixteen, wading through strife and first love and big decisions, and they have no one to turn to.  Even Friar Lawrence, who is their supposed ally, cannot do more than give them a secret marriage and drug Juliet into a coma.  Furthermore, when he finally decides to get his act together and venture out of his cell, he is too late.  Romeo has slain himself, and Juliet has just awaken, understandably aghast.  And what does dear Fr. Lawrence do?  He runs!  He hears the guards coming, and he runs, advising Juliet to flee too as an afterthought.  Of course Juliet doesn’t, and therein we find our tragedy.

I found, finally, and perhaps most importantly, how very beautiful of a play it is.  Half of the romantic language we spout on Valentine’s Day is from Romeo and Juliet.  It is the first and last word on the subject of love.  Everyone knows it, and everyone wishes, in some small part of themselves, that their lives could be as struck with passion.

“It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden;/Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be/Ere one can say ‘It lightens.'”

“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!/It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night/Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope’s ear”

“What, drawn, and talk of peace!/I hate the word as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee”

English majors are fond of asking one another what their favorite Shakespeare plays are.  You get an approving nod if you say Hamlet or Macbeth, a fond grin if you say A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a round of impressed applause if you say one of the histories.  No one ever dares to say Romeo and Juliet.  For, as I’ve said, that’s a high school play.  I myself have been saying Hamlet for four comfortable years now.  But perhaps, having rediscovered the tragic lovers; having written a long, rambling blog post; having sworn that the world simply cannot do without; I will finally get up my gall and be truthful:

My favorite Shakespeare play is Romeo and Juliet.  And I am not ashamed.

O, I Am Fortune’s Fool!

I’ve had a line from Shakespeare stuck in my head all week: Romeo has just slain Tybalt.  Ignoring, or perhaps not hearing Benvolio begging him to flee before men arrive, Romeo throws his head back and shouts to the heavens: “O, I am fortune’s fool!”  Tonight, I took action: I watched Shakespeare in Love.  I watched Joseph Fiennes say that line, hand clutching at a plaster pillar.

And then I sat down and wrote a magnificent (if I may say so) introduction to my senior seminar paper.

I’m still at it, and will be as long as inspiration holds.

Goodnight, friends.